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Inside Self-Storage Magazine 9/99: Ask The Waldmans

April 1, 1999

3 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 9/99: Ask The Waldmans

Yikes! Mice!

DEAR WALDMANS: We are a small business in rural Utah that is afflicted with agrowing problem with mice. We are trying to stay on top of this problem and, in order todo so, we have decided to use rat bait to kill the mice and rats. The problem is, many ofour tenants have pets and let them run loose while they utilize their rental unit. Whenplacing poison in each unit, I have explained to the tenants what we are doing and thepossible dangers to their pets and children. What are our legal liabilities should thepoison be ingested by an animal or child? Would it benefit us to have a disclaimer, orwould a simple authorization for the placement of such a substance with the tenant'ssignature suffice? What are the possibilities if a legal situation should occur? I amconvinced this situation is not unique to our facility. If you decide to address thisissue in your column, I am sure it would help a lot of facility owners.

--Yikes! Mice! in Ogden, Utah

DEAR YIKES! MICE!: You are right in your conclusion that mice are not just aproblem for your facility. Mice and rats are a universal problem. These little creaturestravel all around, and not just in rural areas. We have seen them at our own facility.

Let's start with your first concern: the mice. Most people don't know this, but micebait is free in many states, counties and cities. All you have to do is request it. So, Iwould start by doing some research and see if this free bait is available. We tell rentersabout the bait when they rent. We do not have a problem, but we are preventing a problemfrom multiplying.

As to the liability of this poison to children and animals--this should be considered amajor area of thought. We never allow animals or children to run around our storagefacility because the liability is huge, and most insurance companies would cringe if theyknew that was happening. Additionally, most insurance companies do not approve of guarddogs either.

First of all, animals have fleas. By allowing animals to run around the facility, youare asking for yet another problem. A storage facility is not the place for animals to runfree. Not only are they a danger to themselves, but you are placing yourself at risk forthe other tenants. What if one of the dogs bit another tenant? Or what if a dog attacked achild, or even frightened a child by their excitement? It is beneficial to you and thefacility to set the rules that no animals are allowed to run free. This not only solvesyour poison problem, but your concerns of liability to other tenants.

Now, this fact applies to children, too. It is not in the best interest of the childrento run and play at the facility, not only because of the poison, but what about othertraffic in the area? Due to the possibility of a lawsuit on any one of these issues,protect yourself. Post signs and make it known that animals running loose are not allowedand children are not to be left unsupervised by an adult while on the storage premises.This will not only save you from the heartache of possible mishaps, but allows you tocreate rules that will benefit all.

A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.

E-mail: [email protected]; Web: www.askthewaldmans.com

Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

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